One Trade Suggestion for Each NBA Playoffs Eliminated Team

By recognising roster needs and arranging summer trades for players who can fill them, we're here to assist with that page-turning.

RJ Barrett in a file photo [Image-Twitter@NBA_NewYork]
By Niranjan Shivalkar | May 4, 2023 | 5 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

It can be quite demoralizing to lose an NBA postseason series. Nevertheless, for 15 of the 16 teams that advance, it is an unavoidable result. Even though eight clubs have previously experienced that sting, now is not the time to pick at open wounds. Instead, their front offices ought to be hard at work planning how to make their upcoming playoff runs have happier endings. By recognising roster needs and arranging summer trades for players who can fill them, we’re here to assist with that page-turning.

Sacramento Kings 

For Mikal Bridges, the Brooklyn Nets received Keegan Murray, Richaun Holmes, a 2027 first-round selection, and a 2029 first-round pick. Although the Sacramento Kings have just ended a 16-year playoff drought, time may be running out for them to advance. This could be the ideal time for them to make a splash, as Domantas Sabonis turns 27 on Wednesday and De’Aaron Fox celebrates his 26th birthday just before the year 2024 begins. Could you consider winning the Mikal Bridges auction? They could diversify their offense and significantly improve their 24th-ranked defense—the weakest among all postseason participants—in one move.

Minnesota Timberwolves

For Gary Harris, the Orlando Magic received Taurean Prince, Wendell Moore Jr., Josh Minott, a 2023 second-round selection (through the Knicks), a 2024 second-round pick (via the Grizzlies or Wizards), and a 2025 second-round pick (via the Jazz). To fairly evaluate this core, they ought to bolster their supporting cast. After spending a fortune on Gobert, they don’t have much left to work with, but Gary Harris (barely) suits their finances. As an improved version of what they were receiving from Nickeil Alexander-Walker late in the year, he might also be worthwhile. As a finisher and stopper, Harris might be a heavy-mileage option in the rotation. 

Milwaukee Bucks

For Dorian Finney-Smith, the Brooklyn Nets received Pat Connaughton, MarJon Beauchamp, and a 2024 second-round pick (through the Trail Blazers). Since they lack the resources to replace them, permitting Khris Middleton (player option) or Brook Lopez leave in free agency wouldn’t fix anything. Trading Jrue Holiday most likely wouldn’t result in the delivery of a player with greater significance. A different conversation can be about changing the coaching. The Bucks’ best option is to put their existing resources to use and find someone who has a chance to make their closing lineup. 

Such a pick-up might be Dorian Finney-Smith. He is the stereotypical big-wing defender (6’7″, 220 lbs.—the perfect frame for striking at, say, a scorching-hot Jimmy Butler) with the strength and speed to move around in various positions. Finney-Smith didn’t have a terrific shooting season in 2022–23, but he already had that down pat the previous three seasons (38.9 three-point percentage). He roughly fits the stereotype of a three-and-D wing.

Memphis Grizzlies

For O.G. Anunoby, the Toronto Raptors received Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, a 2025 first-round selection (top-three protected), and a 2027 first-round pick. Before Memphis’ ugly fall, it was obvious that this team needed wing improvement. Resuming the Grizzlies’ aggressive chase of O.G. Anunoby should be an obvious choice after their aggressive pursuit at the trade deadline. He falls in between a two-way star and the pinnacle of three-and-D swingmen. He intimidates scorers of all shapes and sizes, shoots threes effectively (37.5 percent in his career), and appears to be constantly improving his offensive game. Also he also shares the same developmental path as the 24-and-under combination of Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Ja Morant at the age of 25.

Los Angeles Clippers 

For Terry Rozier, the Charlotte Hornets exchanged Marcus Morris Sr., Brandon Boston Jr., a 2023 second-round selection, and a 2024 second-round pick (through the Raptors). Terry Rozier could represent the most comparable to an important point guard that Los Angeles can afford given its limited trade funds. He was one of 23 players to average 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds per game this season, and despite his efficiency issues (44.7/38.1/83.3 shooting slash during the previous two seasons), it wasn’t a problem for him previously. 

Alos he lies in between the peak of three-and-D swingmen and a two-way star. He harasses scorers of all statures, has a lifetime three-point percentage of 37.5%, and seems to be developing his offensive game all the time. When he is 25 years old, he is on the same developmental trajectory as the 24-and-under trio of Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Ja Morant.

Cleveland Cavaliers 

For Alec Burks, the Detroit Pistons received Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, a 2025 second-round selection (through the Bucks), and a 2026 second-round pick. At small forward, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a clear gap to fill. What they lack is a clear strategy for filling that gap. Their asset collection was decimated by the Donovan Mitchell deal, therefore it would be premature to consider making significant alterations to their core, such as trading Jarrett Allen for a wing. The only option seems to be to stretch what little money is available in the trade budget. If that’s enough to land Alec Burks, this offseason will have been fruitful.

He is positioned halfway between a two-way star and the apex of three-and-D swingmen. He swarms scorers of all sizes, has a career three-point percentage of 37.5%, and appears to be constantly improving his offensive game. Also He will be 25 years old when Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Ja Morant are 24 years old and on the same developmental track.

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Brooklyn Nets

Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurki were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for Spencer Dinwiddie, Ben Simmons, Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, three 2023 first-round picks, one 2025 first-round pick (through the Suns), and one 2027 first-round selection (via the Suns). Damian Lillard is among the few players who may instantly elevate the Nets to playoff contention. Bring him to Brooklyn, where he would have the support he lacks in Portland, and he could serve as the offensive hub the team needs to advance swiftly. Lillard, who recently averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game, will be in charge, and Mikal Bridges may revert to a co-star role that is more appropriate. They might have a two-headed offensive monster and a highly disruptive defense with significant length and depth as the rest of the squad comes in behind them. 

Atlanta Hawks

Buddy Hield and T.J. McConnell was traded to the Indiana Pacers for John Collins and a 2023 second-round selection (through the Pelicans). Buddy Hield’s movement shooting may serve as a release valve for Atlanta, which needs other scoring threats to relieve some of the pressure on Young. As a marksman with both number and quality, he is almost unparalleled. In each of the previous five seasons, he hit more than 260 triples, splashing those long-range shots at a 40% rate. Atlanta would also get T.J. McConnell in addition to Hield, and perhaps finally avoid the issues that frequently arise when Young needs a break. 

McConnell is a playmaker who routinely displays good judgment on both offense and defense (career 5.0 assists per game against 1.6 turnovers). With Collins, Indiana would cover an obvious gap at power forward. Collins is a far better timetable fit for Tyrese Haliburton, who is 23 years old, than Hield and McConnell, who are both in their 30s.